Dance forms the fulcrum around which my life revolves. Even my fondest childhood memories are of me dancing in community spaces in Rylands, Cape Town. I used to look forward to going to Rylands for dance class to learn something new from my teachers at Vadhini Indian Arts Academy - a significant Indian dance organisation spearheaded by Savitri Naidoo. “Savitri Akka,” as we called her, sowed the seeds for my learning. She was incredibly adept in revealing to us the connections between cultures and people. She encouraged us to critically assess anything we created, practiced or performed, and to find ways to make whatever we were doing accessible to any audience member - regardless of colour, cast or creed. She had us trained in Yoga, African Dance, Tai-Chi, Kathak and Indian folk styles to supplement our main Bharatanatyam Training.
Even though I had this experience, there was always something I felt that was lacking in my training of Bharatanatyam - a misunderstanding of language or context - and I felt the need to move to Chennai to learn from the source. I went through a rigorous rediscovery of Bharatanatyam in and through my body with The Dhananjayans and, years later, with Leela Samson as part of Spanda Dance Company. Even though my search has always been to find the most “authentic” or “traditional” expression, I was always struck by the contemporaneity of the work produced by these stalwarts and others like them. What on the surface seemed traditional, on further probing, revealed itself to be otherwise. That quality was something that I desired and I realised that to find that quality my search has to start from within.
Now that I am back in Cape Town, I have had time to contemplate my practice and intentionality in dance and I have come to the understanding that a focussed study of movement practices is essential for me to explore and ask different questions about the dance body, mind and ethos of the form.
My presentation seeks to renegotiate my space as a South African Indian man practicing a traditional Indian dance form in South Africa today. I critically analyse the aesthetic shifts that have taken place in my performance and practice through some of my experiences in South Africa and India. I explore what it means for a descendant of the Indian Indentured Labourers to reconnect with India and return back home.
A classically trained Bharatanatyam artist of South African Indian origin, Sarveshan’s artistic path is one that traverses between tradition and diversity in the context of NOW, creating a niche for himself as a dancer.
His art is a reflection of personal experiences and thoughts formed through intense study and rigorous practice, allowing a fresh perspective to emerge in each of his works. Sarveshan strives to understand the world and create a positive impact on society through his artistry.
He has had the good fortune of training with some of the best in the field of Bharatanatyam, starting off with Savitri Naidoo and Darshana Rama in Cape Town, South Africa and later, with The Dhananjayans in Chennai.
Sarveshan takes pride in having been part of The Spanda Dance Company, which celebrates its 25 year anniversary this year (2020) and is cast in Anikaya Dance Theatre's "Conference of The Birds" - a global production directed by Wendy Jehlen.